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And the Spanish also seem about to finally, sorta, kinda, form a government after the last election.

 

January 2, 2020 / 8:04 PM / Updated 12 hours ago

 

Catalan separatists to break Spain's political deadlock
MADRID (Reuters) - A Catalan separatist party said on Thursday it would abstain during the Spanish parliament’s upcoming vote to confirm Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as prime minister, potentially ending the prolonged national political deadlock.

Spain was without proper government for most of 2019 after two inconclusive elections and Sanchez’s Socialist Party needs the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) to at least abstain to secure his confirmation in office.

 

The investiture vote is due between Jan. 4 and 7.

 

The ERC said it would refrain from voting after the Socialists committed to an open dialogue on secessionists’ wishes for Catalonia, which would then be submitted to a citizens’ vote in the wealthy northern region.

 

At a news conference, ERC official Pere Aragones also said his party told the leader of Catalonia’s regional government it would push for a new independence referendum in conversations with central government.

 

Spain has struggled to maintain stable governments since 2015 when a slew of smaller parties sprung up in the wake of the financial crisis, leading to four elections in as many years.

 

To avoid forcing Spaniards to return to the polls, Sanchez has been scrambling to drum up support for a proposed coalition with left-wing party Unidas Podemos.

 

Sanchez and Podemos´s leader Pablo Iglesias said on Monday that their coalition, if confirmed, would push for tax hikes and a rollback of a labour reform by a previous conservative government.

 

The most recent election in November left the two parties with a combined 155 seats, short of a majority in Spain’s 350-member lower house, and thrusting ERC and its 13 representatives into the role of kingmaker.

 

Sanchez’s Socialist Party confirmed it had reached an agreement with the ERC for a dialogue over Catalonia, but did not mention their potential abstention at the investiture vote.

 

Spain’s constitution prohibits regions from breaking away and the Catalan independence drive in recent years, which included a banned referendum in 2017, has caused the country’s worst political furore in decades.

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-politics-catalonia/catalan-separatists-to-break-spains-political-deadlock-idUSKBN1Z11CC

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And there goes Bolivia again.

 

January 4, 2020 / 1:18 AM / Updated 7 hours ago

 

Bolivia's electoral court sets election rerun for May 3

LA PAZ (Reuters) - A rerun of Bolivia’s election has been set for Sunday May 3, the president of the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal said on Friday.

 

Salvador Romero said both presidential and parliamentary elections would be held on the same day.

 

“When we announce the electoral calendar over the next few days, together with the formal call for the election, all the deadlines that both political organizations and citizens must meet will be specified,” he told reporters in La Paz.

 

The vote will be held almost seven months after the results of elections that handed a fourth term to Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales but were then discredited.

 

An audit of last October’s election found serious irregularities, prompting Morales’ resignation and clashes between protesters and security forces that resulted in more than 30 deaths.

 

Morales, who had been in power for nearly 14 years, resigned following the election dispute and fled to Mexico, and later Argentina. He later said he had been toppled in a coup.

 

In an interview with Reuters last week, he ruled out standing as a candidate for his Movement for Socialism (MAS) coalition in the next election, but said that he would return to Bolivia by next Christmas.

 

He has identified Luis Arce Catacora, his former economy minister, and Andronico Rodriguez, a coca farmer union boss, as potential MAS presidential candidates.

 

Prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Morales on charges of sedition, terrorism and terrorist financing. The allegations have been pushed by the government of interim President Jeanine Anez, a former senator and political opponent of Morales.

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-elections/bolivias-electoral-court-sets-election-rerun-for-may-3-report-idUSKBN1Z300F

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Peru Congress vote: Election follows September dissolution

5 hours ago

Peruvians will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new Congress after the previous one was dissolved by President Martín Vizcarra.

 

Mr Vizcarra took the drastic step in September, arguing that lawmakers were obstructing his anti-corruption agenda.

 

Polls suggest that half of the voters are undecided, making the election for the 130-seat chamber unpredictable.

 

Twenty-one parties are running and polls suggest centrist politicians could win a majority.

 

Fragmentation ahead?

 

The right-wing Popular Force, which was the dominant party in the last Congress, is expected to lose seats but to still emerge with a sizeable number of lawmakers.

 

The party is led by Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori. Mr Fujimori was found guilty of human rights abuses and corruption.

 

Ms Fujimori is awaiting trial on charges of corruption, which she denies.

 

Under Peru's electoral laws, parties need to achieve at least 5% of the popular vote or seven elected legislators to gain representation. The high number of undecided voters could result in a fragmented assembly.

 

President Vizcarra had made the fight against corruption his main priority when he took power in March 2018 after then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned over a vote-buying scandal. When parties, including the Popular Force, blocked his efforts, he dissolved Congress.

 

His tough anti-corruption stance endeared him to Peruvians tired of the endless scandals that have tainted not only Mr Kuczynski but also the three previous Peruvian presidents.

 

Voting is mandatory in Peru, Latin America's fifth-largest economy, and some 25 million people are eligible to vote. The new Congress will finish the current legislative term, which ends in July 2021.

 

Earlier this month, the constitutional court said President Vizcarra, a centrist politician, had not exceeded his powers when he dissolved the chamber.

 

Opposition lawmakers had denounced the dissolution of Congress as a coup but the heads of the armed forces and the police backed the president. Supporters of Mr Vizcarra turned out to show their approval of the move.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51208274

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Following up on the last:

 

Peru election: Crushing blow for president's opponents Popular Force


27 January 2020

Peru's once influential conservative Popular Force party has suffered a crushing defeat in congressional elections.

 

The party dominated Congress before the body was dissolved by President Martín Vizcarra in September.

 

Mr Vizcarra took the drastic step arguing that lawmakers were obstructing his anti-corruption agenda.

 

No party won an overall majority but centrist parties have made gains, which could ease the passage of reforms.

 

The new Congress will be short-lived - it will be replaced in next year's general elections.

 

What are the results?

A quick count carried out by Ipsos research firm suggests Popular Force has dropped from the 36.3% it won in the 2016 election to 7%, putting it into sixth place.

 

If confirmed, the figures mean that the party will lose many of the 73 out of 130 seats in Congress it held until September.

 

According to the quick count, the centrist Popular Action party will emerge as the strongest party with 10.1% of the vote.

 

An evangelical party, the Agricultural People's Front of Peru, known by its initials in Spanish as FREPAP, came second in the quick count with 8.9%. The party has not had any representatives elected to Congress since 2000 and its last-minute surge has surprised political analysts.

 

It is followed by the right-wing Podemos Peru (We can, Peru) party with 8.2%, and the centre-right Progress Alliance with 8%.

 

In another unexpected result, the nationalist Union for Peru (UPP) also passed the 5% threshold necessary to enter Congress.

 

What does it mean?

The new Congress will be fragmented but analysts think the gains made by centrist parties could work in President Vizcarra's favour.

 

They argue that if he manages to get enough small parties on his side he will be able to push through the anti-corruption reforms Popular Force blocked.

 

The losses suffered by Popular Force are a big blow to its leader, Keiko Fujimori.

 

The daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori has been a divisive figure in Peruvian politics. She is accused of accepting $1.2m in illegal campaign financing from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and a judge is due to decide on Tuesday whether she should be sent to jail to await trial.

 

Her father is serving a sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

 

Despite their legal woes, the Fujimori family has retained the backing of hardcore supporters. But political commentators say the election result suggests that Fujimorismo, the political movement named after them, may have finally collapsed.

 

What's the back story?

Normally, congressional elections are held at the same time as presidential polls but Sunday's elections were brought forward after President Vizcarra took the drastic step of dissolving Congress in September.

 

President Vizcarra made the fight against corruption his main priority when he took power in March 2018 after then-President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned over a vote-buying scandal. When parties, led by Keiko Fujimori's Popular Force, blocked his efforts, he simply dissolved the legislative body.

 

Opposition lawmakers denounced the move as a coup but the heads of the armed forces and the police backed the president. Supporters of Mr Vizcarra turned out to show their approval of the move and Peru's top court later ruled that it had been constitutional.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51208274

 

Also:

 

Irish general election: Polls open for first-ever Saturday general election vote

3 hours ago

Voters are going to the polls in the Republic of Ireland's general election.

 

Polls opened at 07:00 local time and will close at 22:00.

 

Counting will begin on Sunday in all 39 constituencies. Newly elected TDs will gather on 20 February for the 33rd Dáil (Irish parliament).

 

A total of 160 representatives will be returned to the Dáil. The ceann comhairle, or speaker, is automatically re-elected.

 

In most situations, the speaker does not vote, so a government will need 80 TDs to hold a majority.

 

It is unlikely that any party will reach that number, so another coalition government is probable.

 

The election uses proportional representation with a single transferrable vote.

 

Voters write "1" opposite their first choice candidate, "2" opposite their second choice, "3" opposite their third choice and so on.

 

[...]

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51416540

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Seems everybody is having coalition problems these days.

 

Irish general election: Who will be the next prime minister?

 

By Jayne McCormack

BBC News NI Political Reporter

 

11 February 2020

 

The date 10 February now represents two equally important moments for Mary Lou McDonald.

 

In 2018, it marked the day she took over from Gerry Adams as Sinn Féin president.

 

Two years later, it marked the beginning of a new era for the party under her leadership, as it consolidated its best-ever election result.

 

The party's success surprised pundits, senior Sinn Féin strategists and even some of its candidates: one of them, Patricia Ryan, had gone on holiday during the campaign so slim were her chances of winning a seat.

 

We now know Sinn Féin topped the poll in the majority of constituencies and increased its number of seats by 14 - a remarkable result.

 

However, given how the overall vote has broken down, Sinn Féin may not necessarily end up in government despite its swathe of victories.

 

The magic number for winning a majority government in the Republic of Ireland is 80 seats.

 

None of the three big parties - Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and now Sinn Féin - came anywhere close to that figure.

 

So what happens next?

 

Attempts to form a new coalition-of-sorts are already getting under way, although this will be complex.

 

Previous administrations in the Republic of Ireland have been forged this way too, but it's taken a while to get there.

 

In 2016, it took 70 days for a government to be formed after the parties agreed a confidence-and-supply agreement, which saw a cabinet of Fine Gael members and independents being propped up by Fianna Fáil votes on key policy areas.

 

With all 160 seats in the Dáil (Irish parliament) declared, the parties are expected to reconvene in the chamber on 20 February.

 

But it seems unlikely that an agreement on who enters government will emerge in the next eight days.

 

Why is that?

 

Unlike the last Irish election, which was dominated by the other two parties, the Sinn Féin breakthrough means there are more potential ways for a government to take shape.

 

Mrs McDonald has begun reaching out to some of the smaller parties - the Greens, Labour, Solidarity People Before Profit and the Social Democrats - to see if their numbers combined could be enough.

 

She said "the worst outcome" would be a government again featuring Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

 

But Sinn Féin may very well end up working with one of them, given that an entire coalition made up of left-wing parties doesn't add up to a working majority.

 

Then there is the bigger head-scratcher of what Fianna Fáil - the party that now has the most seats - does.

 

Leader Micheál Martin repeatedly said during the campaign he would not work with Sinn Féin, because of its historic links to the IRA.

 

As the results began rolling in, Mr Martin gave interviews appearing to hold the door open to the prospect of a new government with Sinn Féin.

 

Who will be the next taoiseach (Irish PM)?

It could still be Micheál Martin - but at what political price?

 

There is speculation that if Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin agreed to enter government together, the position could be rotated between them.

 

On Monday, Mary Lou McDonald said she believed she "may well be the next taoiseach".

 

Fine Gael, now the third biggest party, has so far repeated its pledge that it will not enter government with Sinn Féin.

 

It has been in government for nine years and, given a poor election result, is likely to go into opposition.

 

The thinking from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil appears to be leaving it to Sinn Féin, regarded as having 'won' the election, to hit the ground running on the formation of the next government.

 

And then consider how stable any new coalition government will be.

 

In short, there are lots of concerns for the three big parties but no precedent as to how it might unfold.

 

[...]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-51448739

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February 22, 2020 / 8:01 AM / Updated 2 hours ago
Hardline Guards make early gains in restricted Iran election

Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) - Candidates affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards looked on course to win a parliamentary majority on Saturday, reportedly leading in the race in Tehran and towns and villages elsewhere, after a vote stacked in favour of the anti-American hardliners.

An Interior Ministry official said a list of candidates affiliated with the Guards led in the capital. Lists linked to hardliners captured 83 seats in towns and villages across the country following Friday’s vote, according to a Reuters tally.

A clean sweep for hardliners would confirm the political demise of the country’s pragmatist politicians, weakened by Washington’s decision to quit a 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions in a move that stifled rapprochement with the West.

 

However, Iranian authorities have yet to announce the turnout in the race for the 290-seat legislature — a litmus test of the popularity of hardliners closely associated with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

 

Iran’s rulers, under intense U.S. pressure over the country’s nuclear programme, need a high turnout to boost their legitimacy, damaged after nationwide protests in November.

 

Such a result would help the Guards, already omnipresent in Iranians’ daily lives, to increase their substantial influence in political, social and economic affairs.

 

The demonstrations, which called for regime change, were met with a violent crackdown overseen by the Guards which killed hundreds and led to the arrest of thousands, according to human rights organizations.

 

Iranians long for stability after a succession of political and economic crises.

 

[...]

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-election/hardline-guards-make-early-gains-in-restricted-iran-election-idUSKCN20G08A

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Reference the European corruption thread for this.

 

Date 29.02.2020

 

Slovakian election overshadowed by journalist's murder

 

Slovakian voters are widely expected to remove the center-left Smer party in Saturday's election. The election has been overshadowed by corruption allegations and the 2018 murder of a journalist.

 

Slovakians went to the polls on Saturday in an election that may oust the center-left Smer party that has dominated the political landscape for more than a decade.

 

The election has been defined by anger over alleged corruption at high levels, leading to the rapid rise of the anti-corruption movement Ordinary People (OLANO).

 

Opinion polls indicate there is a chance OLANO may aim to form a center-right coalition with smaller conservative and liberal parties.

 

"We can get rid of the government that used its power to make itself and connected people rich," said OLANO leader Igor Matovic.

 

"Poor people were paying for that, sick people were dying unnecessarily, and young people were leaving Slovakia. Let's turn that around."

 

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini of the Smer party currently leads a three-party coalition.

 

Case of murdered journalist haunts election

 

The political shift of the EU member began following the 2018 murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.

 

Kuciak reported on high-level corruption within the Slovakian government before being murdered in a "gang-land" attack.

 

An investigation unearthed communications between a businessman now on trial for ordering the hit and politicians and judicial officials. He has denied the charges.

 

The controversy following Kuciak's murder is expected to have an impact on election results, which are expected after voting closes.

 

https://www.dw.com/en/slovakian-election-overshadowed-by-journalists-murder/a-52581868

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Date 01.03.2020

 

Slovakia opposition party wins parliamentary election

 

Outgoing Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini has conceded defeat. The populist OLANO party, with nearly 25% of votes, will seek to form a government with other conservative parties.

 

The center-right Ordinary People party emerged victorious in the Slovak general election on Saturday, with voters responding to the party's pledge to push anti-corruption reform following the death of murdered journalist Jan Kuciak.

 

The party is expected to secure 24.96% of the votes, according to preliminary results, and form a coalition government with other smaller conservative parties. The governing center-left Smer-SD party won 18.39%, with over 96% of the districts reporting results.

 

Current Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini conceded defeat, and congratulated the winning party, OLANO.

 

The discourse during these elections was dominated by the 2018 double murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee. Kuciak has reported on high level corruption within the government.

 

The murder led to nationwide street protests, forcing Smer leader Robert Fico to resign. However, the Smer coalition remained in power, under the leadership of Pellegrini.

[...]

 

https://www.dw.com/en/slovakia-opposition-party-wins-parliamentary-election/a-52593514

 

Meanwhile, no new elections in Malaysia. Or maybe there will, who knows. Well, Simon maybe.

 

March 1, 2020 / 7:33 AM / Updated 3 hours ago

Newsmaker: Bypassed no more - Malaysia's 'Malay first' PM takes over

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Long overshadowed by colorful contemporaries, the man who emerged from a week of turmoil as Malaysia’s new prime minister on Sunday is a publicity-shy picture of conservatism.

 

When Muhyiddin Yassin, 72, heard news on Saturday that the king had picked him over 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, the outspoken leader who has dominated Malaysian politics for decades, he immediately dropped to the carpet in tears to give thanks to Allah.

 

“He is a very serious, boring man,” said one person who has worked with him for years and did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

 

“Probably that is what Malaysia needs now rather than a camera-hunting, publicity-stunt type of man.”

 

A conservative Muslim from the majority Malay community, Muhyiddin staked his claim to the premiership when Mahathir failed to rally support for a unity government after his shock resignation as prime minister last Monday.

 

Muhyiddin is a Malay nationalist and he drew support from the former ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and Islamist party PAS, who were defeated in 2018 by a multi-ethnic coalition under Mahathir that promised to fight corruption.

 

“I am a Malay first, I want to say that,” Muhyiddin said in 2010. “But being Malay does not mean that you are not Malaysian.”

 

Such sentiment struck a chord at a time of disaffection within the Malay majority over a perceived loss of privileges under Mahathir’s government.

 

“Like a good striker he saw the opening he did not expect, and took advantage to score,” well-known Malaysian lawyer Zaid Ibrahim said about the low-profile Muhyiddin, who was interior minister under Mahathir.

 

MAHATHIR SAYS BETRAYED

 

Mahathir and Muhyiddin were from the same Bersatu party and the former prime minister said he felt betrayed by a man he accused of plotting with UMNO to bring it back despite the corruption charges now facing some of its top officials.

 

“Muhyiddin is willing to accept anything. He says politics is more important than principles,” Mahathir said, vowing to call for a session of parliament to test whether Muhyiddin had a majority.

 

Muhyiddin did not immediately respond to the accusations.Born to a well-known cleric in the southern state of Johor when Malaysia was still under British colonial rule, Muhyiddin became a civil servant before entering politics with UNMO at a time when Mahathir was already prominent in the party.

 

[...]

 

He is the same age as Anwar Ibrahim, who rose more quickly within UMNO to become the favored successor of Mahathir during an earlier stint as prime minister before the two men fell out and began a two decade-old rivalry.

 

[...]

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-politics-profile-newsmaker-idUSKBN20O1DN

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Well, it went well, my boss got re-elected by a very nice margin, and our best district court judge smokes the arrogant, self absorbed entitled Millenial who was running against him. So things are good.

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